Once Glorious: A Look Back at the Stunning Beauty of Seven Hills Country Club in Photos

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The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.

LAKE TWP. − This week’s auction of the former Seven Hills Country Club is stirring a last ripple of remorse in the requiem for a golf course.

In theory, the winning bid can come from someone wishing to reopen Seven Hills as a golf course.

However, numerous conversations with people tied to the local golf industry yield a clear consensus: When Seven Hills abruptly closed in the fall of 2022, it was finished for golf purposes in an era of local courses closings.

The Sanctuary in Plain Township was the latest to cease operations.

As for Seven Hills, Mike Criswell has resigned himself to the “sorry to see it go” group.

Criswell graduated from Perry High School in 1982 and has traveled in his adult life, working in Australia and Louisville, Kentucky. He resettled in Stark County and played in a league at Seven Hills for 20 years until it closed.

Years ago, he befriended the Gran family, which operated Seven Hills for most of its 50-plus years. The course lasted less than three seasons after the Grans sold it in 2020.

Capturing the beauty of Seven Hills Country Club in photos

The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.
The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.

In 2014, Criswell, an avid photographer, asked the Grans to turn him loose with a golf cart and a camera. He embarked in a morning mist, ahead of earlybird customers.

His resulting pictures, dormant until now, capture the essence of why Seven Hills spent decades as a local and regional favorite.

“I was in a Thursday night league with my partner, Craig Yoder, who helped build Seven Hills when he was growing up,” Criswell said. “He passed away last December after a fight with cancer. I miss the place and I miss my partner. I am still in the the original league, the Sylvester’s league, which is at Sable Creek now after Seven Hills shuttered the gates.

“The photographs sat on my hard drive, which is a shame, because the place was beautiful … pristine. I thought maybe you could bring back some great memories around Stark County, since it will now most likely be housing parcels.”

The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.
The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.

One of Criswell’s favorite holes was No. 15, dissected by a creek adorned with a covered bridge.

“I dream of going to Augusta,” he said. “When I framed this I was thinking of the morning shots I have seen there.”

The most striking “water hole” might be the par 4 No. 17.

“The view speaks for itself,” he said.

The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.
The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.

Countless golfers who deposited a ball in a greenside pond may recognize Criswell’s shot of No. 1.

“It was a great par 5,” he said.

The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.
The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.

His picture of No. 17, with mist rising, strikes a ghostly chord as the course goes to auction.

The heyday of Seven Hills lasted a long time.

A review by Chris Racic on 3jackalmanac.com — the same year as Criswell’s photo shoot — captured some of the spirit.

An excerpt: “Tell me Seven Hills is your favorite golf course and I’ll compliment you for having good taste. Tell me it’s the best public course in the area and I would have a hard time picking one that’s better.”

Golfers saw the demise coming

The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.
The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.

Reviews on golfpass.com from people who played the course shortly before it closed were writing on the wall.

  • Sept. 6, 2022 post: “A few of the greens were in bad shape, nothing like the condition they used to be in. Country clubs were jealous of the condition of this course back in the day.” (Seven Hills was named a “Country Club,” but it always was a public course.)

  • Sept. 3, 2022 post: “The course itself has lots to offer, water, trees, sand traps, doglegs. Looks like it has been let go.”

  • Sept. 10, 2022 post: “I’ve been playing here for 30 years and today was the worst shape I have ever seen. … This used to be the premier public course in the area.”

The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.
The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.

It was a different story for most of the course’s run. Examples on golf.com:

  • June 2019 post: “I played Seven Hills since it opened and it has just gotten better and harder. I remember when they planted a lot of the trees. They are now very large, which makes some holes very difficult. You will enjoy this course.”

  • April 2017 post: “I will be playing here when I move back to Ohio. I played here a lot in the ’70s and it will be nice to see how it has matured. Best course in the area.”

  • July 2016 post: “I am a manager of a different course in the area. Seven Hills is one of the nicest public courses in the state.”

The land is tucked on a tract a few miles southeast of the center of Hartville.

The auction, operated by Kaufman Realty & Auctions of Sugarcreek, will be conducted Friday and Saturday. It will include a house that wasn’t part of the golf course, maintenance equipment and the land that used to be 18 golf holes.

An auction of maintenance equipment and other items at The Sanctuary was conducted last month.

Reach Steve at steve.doerschuk@cantonrep.com.

The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.
The former Seven Hills Country Club, which closed at the end of the 2022 season, is up for auction this week. The 18-hole course just outside Hartville was once considered one of the premier courses in Stark County.

This article originally appeared on The Repository: Seven Hills Country Club golf course up for auction in Hartville

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